West Midlands overtakes South East as regional foreign investment projects buck the national trend, which is in decline
The West Midlands topped regional rankings for foreign direct investment (FDI) and saw the highest growth rate in the UK in 2022-2023.
According to data from the Department for Business and Trade, 181 foreign investment projects were won across the region during the latest financial year – more projects than Scotland and Wales combined, and overtaking the South East of England for the very first time.
Foreign investment landing in the West Midlands represented more than 10 per cent of the UK’s total of 1,654 foreign investment wins and was the largest share of all UK regions outside of London.
With 8,252 jobs created by overseas investors during the same period – a 48 per cent increase than those in 2021-2022 – the West Midlands also bucked the national trend of a decline in FDI-related jobs.
Richard Bate, chief technology officer at cyber security business Goldilock, said: “Wolverhampton Science Park was key to our decision of where to base the business, providing us with a state-of-the-art research and development and production facility, as well as proximity to cyber skills. The West Midlands gives us unparalleled access to industry and talent on a very practical and affordable level, while being within easy reach of London’s tech ecosystem. WMGC has also kept us connected to significant events taking place in the region. As a start-up with limited resources, this has created valuable networking opportunities, while allowing us to amplify our voice within the marketplace.”
The last financial year also saw the West Midlands Growth Company – the region’s official investment promotion agency – achieve a record high performance, with recorded projects representing a 171 per cent increase on the previous year.
The Business and Tourism Programme (BATP), the first programme of its kind established to boost the economic impact of the Commonwealth Games, which took place at locations across Birmingham from 28 July – 7 August last year, has played a key role in boosting the region’s inward investment performance.
Over the last year, BATP-led trade and investment missions to India; Australia, Malaysia and Singapore and the US have enabled the region to strengthen existing trade ties and reach into new markets to increase its inward investment pipeline. In particular, over the last 12 months, India has overtaken the US to become the West Midlands’ leading source of FDI, with tech-led investments into the region representing a prominent trend.
Councillor Stephen Simkins, City of Wolverhampton Council deputy leader and cabinet member for inclusive city economy, said: “These latest figures and Wolverhampton’s number one FDI Intelligence ranking in the Small European Cities of the Future category earlier this year demonstrate the city is a global hotspot for foreign direct investment.